BACK ROW: Katie (sound), Adam, Marion, Monique, Elizabeth, Rohini, me, Matt, Gracie
FRONT ROW: Jessica’s daughter, Jessica, Alicia, Julieanne
Today, i made the 6-hour trek to California, in order to speak at this storytelling event. I didn’t want to do it. Public speaking … standing on a stage … sharing my personal business with a bunch of complete strangers – these are all things i strive to avoid whenever possible. However, i am following through on some promises i made to a friend a couple months ago: Let people in to help when they offer, and say yes when i would rather say no. So… YES, i will stand up on a stage in Palisades, CA and tell 120 strangers a story about my boobs. No problem.
People keep asking me how it went. Honestly, i am not sure. The hours leading up to the event were nerve-wracking. I had three familiar faces in the audience that night, and all three of them were going out of their way to reassure me that everything would be fine. They were sweet. It didn’t help, but i appreciated their efforts. Once the event itself started, i was placed in the delightful position of listening to six of the other seven speakers go first, each time feeling the butterflies in my stomach breed and multiply, fantasizing about their ever-increasing wing power lifting my body right up and out of the theater. It didn’t happen. When the sound tech cued my music (“Conqueror,” from the TV show Empire), i counted three Mississippi’s, choked back my nausea, and walked on stage. I couldn’t tell you if i was loud enough, or if i paused in the right places, or if my speech was still clear in those moments when i purposely sped up. I remember looking out into the audience and seeing pitch blackness all before me, and the next nine minutes were a blur.
Afterwards, a generous handful of people came up to me and congratulated me. I was later told that my discomfort was written all over my face, but i managed to thank each and every one of them for coming, WITHOUT throwing up all over them. No one asked me personal questions relating to my story, which was surprising but a definite relief. When the energy in the reception got too overwhelming for me, Sacha, Megane, and i all dipped out.
The next night, Megane and i were walking down a sidewalk in Santa Monica, on our way to meet Julieanne at some bourgeois hotel for dinner. We were stopped in the street by a man and a womyn. The man asked me, “Are you the lady who spoke at that spoken word event last night?” He proceeded to give me props for having the courage to tell such an impactful story … and while i was totally flustered in the moment, i felt good about it afterwards. I reached some people. My story was heard. This was the point, right?
LINK TO AUDIO RECORDING – http://www.sparkoffrose.com/audio-2016.php#intimacy